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Sage North America releases payment platform

BY Dan Berthiaume

Irvine, Calif. — Sage North America is releasing the new Sage Exchange Payment Management System to consolidate all of retail small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) payment activity onto one platform. SMBs can use Sage Exchange to monitor and manage the payments from all their sales environments: on the web, over the phone, through mobile devices, or at their storefront, on a 24/7 basis.

That consolidated activity and information can be accessed and administered online from anywhere, using a single user name and password. SMBs can manage credit card transactions, and also gift cards, mobile payments, and checks in real-time.

Sage Exchange also allows businesses to connect their Sage accounting or ERP software to their payment devices for automated reconciliation of payment activity, as well as gain access to the Sage support group or self-service portal.

The new Sage Exchange Payment Management System was built on three core components:

  • Consolidated access to all payment accounts and devices.
  • Advanced payments administration and reporting.
  • Simple integration tools to connect payment solutions with Sage accounting products.

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Facebook nabs PayPal president

BY CSA STAFF

Silicon Valley saw some drama late Monday when PayPal announced that president David Marcus was leaving to lead Facebook’s messaging products.

The split was amicable with eBay president and CEO John Donahoe wishing Marcus well at Facebook.

“As the head of PayPal, David helped make a great business better, reinvigorating product design and innovation and energizing the team to deliver compelling consumer experiences,” Donahoe said. “An entrepreneur at heart, David has made a career decision to focus on what he loves most – leading smaller teams to create great product experiences. We wish him well. He leaves behind a strong leadership team, committed to not skipping a beat on executing our plans, scaling product innovation and driving global growth.”

Donahoe said the PayPal team will report to him until a new president is named.

“Leading PayPal has been one of the most amazing experiences of my career,” Marcus said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done together over the past two years, reinvigorating and accelerating product innovation and strengthening PayPal’s global leadership in mobile and digital payments. I believe PayPal is poised for long-term success in creating the future of money. And I know the business has a strong leadership team in place. That’s why now felt like the right time to make a change and return to how I most love to spend my time, leading smaller teams to build great product experiences.”

PayPal has more than 148 million active accounts and in 2013 processed $180 billion in payment volume, including $27 billion of mobile payments volume, and accounted for 41% of eBay’s revenue last year.

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SAP Sapphire 2014: Keep it Simple, Smart

BY Dan Berthiaume

While the mantra of “keep it simple, stupid” has long been a staple in the world of business, the message of the recent SAP Sapphire 2014 conference in Orlando could be summed up as “keep it simple, smart.” Speakers throughout the three-day event stressed how leading-edge technology allows enterprises to operate with a previously unavailable simplicity and flexibility, providing new and exciting capabilities. Here are a few examples.

Getting Socially Active

While anyone who was a shy teenager probably remembers being encouraged to get more socially active, in terms of retail CRM, social activation has a different meaning.

“Social activation is a move from measuring sentiment to changing perceptions,” Bill Briggs, director at Deloitte Consulting, said during a presentation. “It’s not social listening, it’s creating consumer advocacy in their own words.”

Briggs said retailers need to move beyond abstract, empty social media statistics such as how many followers they have and what percentage of social commentary has positive sentiment. Instead, retailers should focus on creating a positive consumer perception through social media.

Thus, rather than focusing strictly on measuring sentiment, retailers should take the direct approach of identifying social influencers and the social communities that represent the bulk of their business. By using old-fashioned community outreach methods such as events, contests, request for feedback, and special offers, retailers can build trust in these important social segments and create social evangelists who perform peer-to-peer marketing.

Ditching the ‘Big Iron’

The development of in-memory processing, which stores data directly into computer memory rather than on hard disks, and of virtual servers, is creating an environment where traditional, infrastructure-heavy data warehousing solutions are less necessary.

“Big iron costs a lot to maintain,” Stew Wenerstrom, senior VP/CIO of Big Lots, said of legacy data warehousing systems during a retail industry forum. “It’s one of the biggest items on my budget.”

While the “big iron” is not going away in the immediate future, moving forward, retailers will likely continue gravitating to the architecturally simpler and more cost-effective virtual in-memory processing model of storing, analyzing and acting upon data. This model also offers the potential of much greater insight and flexibility from data, leading to the third takeaway from Sapphire…

Gutting the Cube

In addition to moving beyond the need for complex infrastructure, in-memory processing also holds the promise of moving beyond the need for data aggregations and cubes. Traditional data warehousing solutions aggregate data into cubes that are then analyzed to uncover patterns and insights.

However, the massive computational power of in-memory processing can let retailers analyze specific pieces of data about individual consumers. Data aggregation still occurs with in-memory processing, but as an extension of initial granular analysis, rather than as the first step toward obtaining deeper consumer insight.

During a keynote presentation, Clayton M. Christensen, professor, Harvard Business School, explained how this new granular analytical capability will let retailers align their organizations around customer service. According to Christensen, customers are usually motivated to make a purchase in order to get a specific job done, rather than by their demographic characteristics.

“We’re breaking down cubes and removing aggregates so you can reorganize on the fly,” said Christensen. “You can respond to jobs that customers need to get done and arrange your organization around processes that give the customers what they need.”


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